SPRUCE PINE – Residents and nurses at the Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation Center in Spruce Pine were showered with support Thursday, May 14, during a drive-thru parade.
Nurses and employees at the nursing home brought residents outside in wheelchairs and sat them six feet apart to enjoy the festivities.
Family members and friends in vehicles, some with posters and balloons, circled the parking lot and honked, cheered and waved to residents and staff.
Law enforcement joined the effort, as well. Sheriff’s deputies, police and firefighters flashed lights and sounded sirens in support.
“In times like this, we have to find the positive and a way to love each other, and that was represented here,” said Heather Steuer, director of care transitions at the Brian Center. “For residents to get to be outside, to get the love of their family and the love of their community, it was just huge.”
Steuer said the parade, which lasted nearly 30 minutes and drew a crowd of several dozen vehicles, was a stunning success.
“We were just totally overwhelmed,” she said. “I don’t think there were any of us that had a dry eye.”
While the parade was not an original idea, after many employees at the Brian Center saw other nursing homes had similar parades on social media, Steuer said they decided to plan their own.
“We knew this week was National Nursing Home Week, so we thought it was the perfect time to celebrate,” she said.
Residents Masona Buchanan and Katrina Cook usually teach Sunday School at the Brian Center weekly. After the CDC prohibited people from visiting nursing homes two months ago, however, they have been unable to meet with residents.
“We have not been able to see them, and it breaks our hearts and breaks their hearts,” Buchanan said, holding back tears.
When they heard about the parade, Buchanan said she and Cook felt they had a duty to take part. The two decorated their car with balloons, a large teddy bear and a poster that read, “We miss and love you.”
“We just had to,” Buchanan said. “We just love them so much and miss them so much.”